Here's an idea: The addiction defense.
What would happen if a ballplayer thrown into the steroid scandal, maybe someone facing perjury charges if it's proven that he lied under oath while giving a deposition, took a seat in front of the cameras and suddenly confessed he is addicted to performance-enhancing drugs?
Something like this:
"I sit before you a humbled man. I hope to someday regain the trust and faith the sporting public had in me, but I realize I have a lot of work to do. For now, all I can do is apologize and tell you a story.
"The story is about a little boy who could always do whatever he wanted on the ball field. From the time this little boy was 5 years old, everyone said he would be a famous ballplayer. Through Little League, high school and then college, this boy got better and worked hard and made those predictions come true.
"The boy's ability gained him many favors. People wanted to be around him -- famous people, people with money and influence and power. They wanted to shake his hand or give him something or just feel a connection to greatness. The boy grew into a man, and he kept getting better and better, richer and richer, more and more famous.
"And then, after this boy-turned-man reached the peak of his ability, his body began to fail. The work became harder. People in power questioned if he still had what it took to be great. Doubts crept into his mind for the first time; he began to wonder if it was slipping away. He had grown accustomed to the money and the fame and the attention. He stayed awake at night, panicked at what he would do when it all went away. This was all he'd ever done.
"And then he met a man who promised to keep the wolves of age away. He had drugs that were proven to work, and the man -- now desperate to return to greatness and prove people wrong -- agreed to try it. He immediately felt younger and stronger. His workouts went longer and his ability returned.
"The attention came back. The money poured in. The fame increased. It was intoxicating. He kept taking the drugs, knowing it was wrong but powerless to fight the addiction. His fear of mortality was greater than his fear of being caught.
"That man, ladies and gentleman, sits before you a humbled man. My first addiction was to the game, and then to the substances that allowed me to continue to excel in the game. If forgiveness is impossible, I beg for mercy."What do you think -- would it work?
This week's list
• Just to throw a little unsolicited science into the equation: On the DSMV-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Substance Dependence, steroids score five out of a possible seven.
• Sorry, but you don't need a law degree for this one: The legal pundits discussed the ramifications, but it's not hard -- Andy Pettitte's decision to opt out of Wednesday's hearings to keep from saying something bad about his friend Roger Clemens is horribly damning to Clemens.
• U.S. News and World Report never had this problem: Sports Illustrated, thrown into the middle of the fray, thanks to Debbie Clemens and Brian McNamee.
• Before this, they were going to say, "The guy that did the jockstraps," so maybe it's an improvement: Kirk Radomski, former clubhouse boy turned steroid dealer/informant, told ESPN's Mike Fish that when he dies people will say, "The guy who did the Mitchell Report."
• Irrelevant to the discussion -- any discussion: John Rocker.
• Because, as we all know, blame is best served with a crop duster: The sad story of Nevada high schooler Kevin Hart -- the Pac-10 recruit who wasn't -- has given fresh material to all the pontificators who believe anyone who reads about sports or watches sports or even follows a sport is partially to blame for the sins of all who aim to join the party.
• Instead of blaming society, if you want to carve a little closer to the truth, find the answer to this question: What would it be like to be 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds and have to tell everybody in your small school in your small town that you're not being recruited by anybody?
• Just for the heck of it: Russell Cross.
• Why spring training matters: Without it, no Giants fan would ever remember Randy Elliott.
• As far as mottos go, "Practicing Patience For More Than 20 Years" is kind of tough to market: According to Mr. Crasnick in the house two clicks away, the new management team of the Pittsburgh Pirates is talking about patience.
• When someone can say one wine tastes like "sadness" and then compliment -- yes, compliment -- another wine by saying it smells like pig manure, you know he's worth watching: This might not be the place you expect to find this recommendation, but even if you don't like wine you need to check out a guy named Gary Vaynerchuk.
• And come to think of it, there's always a sports angle: The Wine Library guy, a huge Jets fan, relates the prices of wines to ex-Jets, so a $14 bottle of wine is a Richard Todd and a $28 bottle Curtis Martin.
• Terrell Owens' rules for image rehabilitation: (1) Go all out in the Pro Bowl.
• One way college basketball is being diminished: All that damned flopping.
• Indeed, what will we tell the children? A woman identified as a founder of the Hot Moms Club is on Fox News (where else?) right now saying what a bad message we're sending our children when someone as unsavory as Amy Winehouse is awarded so many Grammys.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Tim here.